Rugby: England v Barbarians match cancelled after COVID-19 breach

England's match against the Barbarians at Twickenham has been called off, after players were stood down for breaking COVID-19 quarantine rules.

Several Barbarian players had left their hotel rooms without the permission this week, prompting the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to conduct a review on whether the game could be held safely.

The RFU says the discovery of a further breach of COVID-19 protocols had left it with no choice but to cancel the game, scheduled for Monday (NZ time). 

"The RFU has concluded that the players leaving their COVID-secure environment on October 20, without then isolating from the rest of the group on their return, has resulted in the bubble environment being compromised, with the potential risk of COVID transmission from individuals outside the bubble to everyone in the Barbarians team and management," says the RFU.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney is "incredibly disappointed" that the fixture is cancelled, but that the priority is the health and safety of the England squad, and the other international teams they will go up against this Autumn.

"We know how much fans were looking forward to seeing the teams play," says Sweeney. 

The Barbarians says they are extremely disappointed with the conduct of their players involved in the protocol breach.

Former Crusaders wing Sean Maitland was among the 12 players who breached the rules.

Eddie Jones' England were hoping for game-time this weekend at Twickenham, before their final Six Nations game in Italy on November 1.